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Armchair travel opens up a whole new world of behind-the-scenes wanderlust experiences from the comfort of your home. From virtual museum tours to live stream wildlife encounters and so much more. We have put together the ultimate list of armchair travel inspiration and the best armchair travel websites to turn your lounge room into a virtual adventure!
What is Armchair Travel?
Armchair travel is just as the name suggests – travel experiences from the comfort of your armchair. Or your bed. Or wherever you may be tuning in.
Becoming an armchair traveller means entering the virtual world of online travel. when you are unable to visit in person. This is a great way to ease some of that wanderlust between trips or share with anyone who isn’t able to travel.
But armchair travelling is great for all ages! It’s educational for kids to teach them about the famous places they learn about in school.
It’s great for seniors who no longer have the mobility to travel. And it’s great for the rest of us to enjoy beautiful places around the world without costing a thing!
Armchair travel works perfectly with planning a Staycation at home with kids.
And of course, make sure you’ve planned a menu around your chosen destinations too with recipes from around the world, international drinks and the best desserts of the world too!
What Type of Places Can You Visit Virtually?
Thanks to technology, you can visit almost anywhere in the world virtually. There are some places in the world where video technology is not allowed, but these are becoming few and far between.
With Google Earth allowing you to zoom right into a street on the other side of the world, we live in a whole different era of possibility!
And best of all, many museums, zoos and nature reserves have set up virtual tours and live streaming cameras to allow you to tune in from home. Some are in real-time, while others are pre-recorded to watch at your leisure.
So much fun!
And all you need is an internet connection and a device to let the virtual travel begin!
Art Gallery & Museum Virtual Tours
Art museum virtual tours and virtual gallery tours are a fantastic learning tool for children. You can explore some of the most famous museums in the world, seeing artworks and sculptures in ‘virtual’ real-life.
Many of these virtual museum tours can be found on the Google Arts & Culture page, with these being just a few of the incredible museums that are featured.
Musée d’Orsay – Paris, France
The Musée d’Orsay in Paris is one of the most popular museums to visit in France, offering plenty for all ages. The museum itself is a work of art and this virtual tour will make you feel like you are taking a walk through the museum.
Louvre – Paris, France
A virtual tour may have been a safer option for us back when we first visited, instead of getting lost in the museum and unable to find an exit for a full 20 minutes. Too funny! It is one of the world’s most famous museums and an essential Paris attraction with good reason. The Louvre is impressive to behold and home to some of the most famous works in the world. They offer their own virtual tour to some of their prized collections.
British Museum– London, England
The British Museum virtual tour offers something a little different aside from their walkthrough tour option. Kids will love this view alternative, as it almost has a computer game feel with sound effects as you scroll through the ages.
Pergamon Museum – Berlin, Germany
Get up close with Germany’s largest museum as you ‘walk’ your way around Pergamon Museum, through doorways and along hallways as you marvel at some of their most impressive exhibits and artworks.
Acropolis Museum – Athens, Greece
As you walk over history with the famous glass floors of the Acropolis, the virtual experience will showcase ancient history in its finest as you travel through time without leaving your home.
Uffizi Gallery – Florence, Italy
Designed back in 1560, you will enjoy the chance to explore the Uffizi Gallery during your Tuscan armchair tour. Don’t forget to look up because like so many European museums and palaces, many rooms feature incredible paintings on the ceiling too.
Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam, Netherlands
With more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 personal letters from the famed Van Gogh, this is a wonderful way to learn all about the artist from your favourite armchair at home.
Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The thorough virtual museum tour through Rijksmuseum gives you a very interactive experience as you ‘wander’ from room to room, with their impressive collection of famous artefacts, including works by Rembrandt and Veneer.
Warsaw Rising Museum – Warsaw, Poland
Not a virtual tour to share with younger children, but one that will help older children appreciate the horrors of World War II. We have visited this museum on one of our visits to Poland and while incredible, it is very confronting.
The State Hermitage Museum – St Petersburg, Russia
As one of the largest museums in the world, with over 3 million exhibits… yes, you read that right. An armchair tour of this museum is sure to be impressive. This is one of our favourite virtual museum tours we have done with the kids.
The J. Paul Getty Museum – Los Angeles, USA
We ran out of time to visit The Getty Centre and surrounds during our Los Angeles visit, so having an online tour was a great alternative. Not quite the same as the real thing, but fun to share with the kids.
Guggenheim Museum – New York, USA
Make your way down the famous spiral as you explore level by level of this modern, contemporary and impressionist museum.
Royal Ontario Museum – Toronto, Canada
With many wonderful museums in Toronto, you won’t want to miss your chance to experience this one, even if it happens to be from home with your kids on an iPad!
Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art – Brisbane, Australia
Having spent many a school excursion at the Queensland Art Gallery, it is one I know well and these days we love visiting GOMA with the kids in their children’s gallery when spending a day in Brisbane. But for those playing along at home, their virtual tour is very cool too.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – Seoul, South Korea
Google’s virtual tour of this impressive 6 story museum of modern art in Seoul takes you right into some of their incredible exhibits.
MASP – São Paulo, Brazil
Brazil’s first modern museum opened its doors back in 1947 and houses more than 8.000 works, including paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, and costumes from over the ages and around the world. They also have regular temporary exhibits, but you will have to visit in person for those ones.
Virtual Castle Tours
Most of us have dreamt of a life in a castle. There is no better way to bring those childhood fantasies to life than through a behind the scenes tour inside a real-life castle, without leaving your comfy chair.
These virtual palace tours will let you see some of the most extravagant buildings in the world:
Blarney Castle – Blarney Village, Ireland
Home of the famous Blarney Stone, this tour around Blarney Castle takes you inside the castle and through the gardens as well. Kids will especially love the rugged castle interior, giving them fairy tale vibes.
Palace of Versailles – Paris, France
As a popular day trip from Paris, Versailles offers opulence and grandeur at every turn, from gold plated gates to pristine gardens. This virtual tour is as close to seeing the real thing as our father in law has gotten because sometimes plans change, and he’s never let that experience go. It’s a family joke now, especially since we’ve since visited the palace.
Windsor Castle – Windsor, England
Windsor Castle houses some of the most precious British royal jewels and artefacts. This virtual tour allows you to see inside the Waterloo Chamber, the Crimson Drawing Room and the State Banquet Hall. Oh so fancy!
The Château of Chambord – Chambord, France
A striking and well-preserved castle, sparse on furnishings yet with plenty of architectural and artistic appeal.
Buckingham Palace – London, England
We missed the chance to tour Buckingham Palace when in London. This virtual tour includes the throne room, the grand staircase and the white drawing room.
National Palace of Queluz – Queluz, Portugal
The National Palace of Queluz is located between Lisbon and Sintra and is one of the best examples of rococo and neoclassical architectural styles from the second half of the eighteenth century in Portugal. Take a ‘stroll’ around the gardens and palace exterior.
Schonbrunn Palace – Vienna, Austria
Take a Google street view tour through beautiful Schonbrunn Palace, one of our favourite castles around the world. This well preserved royal residence and museum is one we recommend in real life one day too.
Castello Odescalchi – Bracciano, Italy
Located 35km from Rome, Castello overlooks the beautiful town of Bracciano and a lake. The virtual tours take you through the interior, exterior and views of the castle.
Sanssouci Palace & Prussian Palaces – Potsdam, Germany
Germany has some of the most impressive castles in the world. This is a beautiful place to rival many European displays of riches, with ornate furnishings and decor.
Royal Palace Amsterdam – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Royal Palace was built as a town hall but converted into a palace in 1808 by King Louis Napoleon. It remains a palace to this day and is open for public viewings on a regular basis in case you are visiting Amsterdam in future.
Akasaka Palace (The State Guest House) – Minato City, Japan
Built in 1909, Akasaka Palace serves as a place of diplomatic activities by welcoming monarchs and presidents from countries all over the world visiting Japan. The State Guest House underwent major renovations back in 2009 to return it to glory.
Wildlife Live Streams
Living in such a connected world means we have instant access to almost anything, anywhere. This technology has brought a whole new opportunity into our lives with many zoos and wildlife reserves now setting up zoo cams and live streaming animals going about their day. This is so much fun for kids who rarely get to see these everyday moments.
Here are some of the best zoo cam and wildlife streams from around the world:
Mpala Research Centre – Kenya
In the heart of Kenya’s highlands, Mpala Research Centre gives you some of the most incredible live views from the watering hole and surrounds. Mpala is a ‘living’ laboratory where wildlife experts from around the world come for this unique research experience. For the rest of us, there are seriously cool live streams with many of Africa’s most breathtaking creatures in the wild.
Melbourne Zoo & Werribee Open Range Zoo – Victoria, Australia
The Victorian Zoos animal house streaming is great because you have the ability to scroll back through the day to see what the animals have been up to. This means even if the current stream is the middle of the night in Australia, you don’t miss the chance to see animals at play. See penguins, giraffes, zebras and lions.
San Diego Zoo – San Diego, USA
The San Diego Zoo has a load of live streams set up in a variety of their animal enclosures. Tigers, condors, elephants, owls, giraffes, koalas, apes, polar bears, pandas, penguins and baboons.
Be sure to check out our guide to the best family attractions in San Diego when you’re ready for a real visit!
Smithsonian’s National Zoo – Washington D.C, USA
Ever wanted to see a naked mole rat going about its day? Well now you can. Plus see lions, pandas and elephants too.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – Brisbane, Australia
Lone Pine holds a special place in my heart after my high school work experience was spent here. They have koala cams to see their most popular residents up close, snoozing, chomping on eucalyptus leaves and climbing.
Marwell Zoo – Winchester, UK
Marwell Zoo have live streams for their flamingo, penguins, giraffes and playful lemurs.
Dublin Zoo – Dublin, Ireland
See a variety of animals wandering around in the African Savannah area of Dublin Zoo – giraffes, rhinos, ostrich & zebras, plus see penguins and elephants too.
Monterey Bay Aquarium – Monterey, USA
Monterey Bay Aquarium has a load of fun live cam options to check out with many of their sealife starts. Sea otter, sharks, penguin, coral reef view, aviary, kelp Forest, jellyfish, Moon Jelly & their open sea aquarium.
Seattle Aquarium – Seattle, USA
The Seattle Aquarium gives you the opportunity to see adorable otters and seals on their live stream videos.
Other Virtual Tour Attractions
Museums, castles and zoo cams are all pretty amazing armchair travel experiences to have and perfect for educating kids on some of the incredible sights around the world.
These famous attractions also offer virtual tours:
Great Wall of China
See one of the worlds largest structures without leaving home. This is the perfect way to avoid the crowds at the popular attraction. And wow… what a view!
A collaboration between Google and NASA and the NASA curiosity rover to show you how it looks on Mars. They have 360-degree videos for when the live cam isn’t running too. Very fun for space-loving kids.
One of Rome’s most iconic monuments. We visited The Colosseum many years ago and were so grateful for the experience. This site offers virtual tours of many of Rome’s other famous sites and attractions also, including the Roman Forum and the Pantheon.
See India’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites with an educational online tour of Taj Mahal. The website has clickable maps and 360 panorama images.
As one of the most visited attractions in the world, Angkor Wat offers a virtual simulated tour so you can get an idea of the history and sights.
Armchair travelling Machu Picchu comes complete with an audio guide as you explore one of the world’s wonders.
The Great Pyramids
As a bucket list destination since I was young, this 3D virtual tour of Egypt’s pyramids is pretty fun. It is aimed as an educational tour for children, with audio and animations.
Other Ways To Enjoy Armchair Travel
If these virtual tours and live streams haven’t inspired your wanderlust from home, here are a few more fun ways to enjoy the world when you can’t travel:
- Travel videos – YouTube is the first place we go when planning our next big adventure. Travel vlogs are a load of fun to watch and often give you a more authentic view of a destination or attraction. Visit our channel.
- Travel books – Books may not be the first place many of us now turn when wanting armchair travel inspiration, but they are still a great way to do some armchair travelling. Especially if you want it to be tech-free!
- Vacation photos & videos – Get out your old travel memoirs or enjoy viewing vacation pics and videos from a friend who has recently travelled somewhere new. We often do this with extended family when any of us have been abroad.
- Staycation – Give yourself a vacation at home with these fun ideas for setting up the perfect family staycation with kids.
- Travel games – Play a travel-themed board game with family and friends.
- Travel journal or scrapbook – Go back and read a past travel journal or create a travel scrapbook from a previous trip.
- Travel subscription boxes – Get monthly activities, snacks and ideas delivered to your door to enjoy as a family.
You can enjoy armchair travel without spending a thing or leaving home. Be sure to choose your comfiest chair before you kick off your next virtual holiday!